Some dogs don’t fare well

The city of Terrace's move to hire a full-time bylaw officer turns columnist Claudette Sandecki's mind to the dogs

To learn that Terrace will hire a full time by-law officer freeing up 10 extra hours for the dog catcher to follow up on barking dogs and other animal complaints is good news. I’m sure neighbours think I’m a nut when I turn right around and go home to phone the dog pound when any dog, big or small, charges at me as I walk out with my dogs.

Dog owners who never walk their dogs but instead let them run loose don’t appreciate the injuries that can result to someone my age, even younger, when loose dogs set my two circling around me in their attempt to oppose the approaching dog until my knees are as trussed as a Thanksgiving turkey’s.

They might disbelieve if they read a recent report of the injuries suffered by a 55-year-old Saskatoon woman as she walked her two little shelties in a dog walking park. She was hit from behind and knocked to the ground by a rushing dog. The size of the dog and its owner is unknown to her. She lay on the ground, in severe pain, with a broken shoulder, broken wrist, broken knee and broken ankle. Emergency room doctors would ask her if she had been hit by a vehicle.

To prolong her agony for an hour, when this accident happened February 22, the park was still quite soggy and snow covered. The ambulance was too heavy for ground conditions and too wide to fit through the park entrance to reach her. An ambulance supervisor was dispatched with a smaller truck to pick her up.

She spent several weeks in hospital and underwent two surgeries before being sent home to recover where her home resembles a physiotherapy department outfitted with a wheelchair lift and other devices to make her care less burdensome. Doctors tell her she will be off work from three to six months.

The “Alaska News” reports a problem with stolen dogs in B.C.’s Peace Region. North Peace SPCA has 50 missing dogs on file. South Peace reports 20 dogs missing. Dawson Creek RCMP report two dogs stolen. It’s something of an epidemic, but why? Equally disturbing, a few owners whose dogs have gone missing report finding a white supermarket shopping bag tied high in the branches of a nearby tree, perhaps as a signal to dognappers of a dog worth stealing.

On March 16, I tuned in to Global TV as Don Martin interviewed Sheila Watt-Cloutier about her book, “The Right to be Cold”. I learned a piece of Inuit history involving the systematic slaughter of hunters’ Siberian huskies by RCMP upon orders from Ottawa.

Beginning in the 1950s through 1960s hunters’ dog teams were shot and killed en masse. Severe social, economic and cultural repercussions ensued. Ottawa claimed the killing was to stamp out rabies and dangerous dogs in the 22 communities scattered over northern Canada. In fact, erasing the Inuits’ ability to hunt and live off the land forced an end to their nomadic lifestyle. They had to establish permanent settlements.

The number of Siberian huskies registered with the Canadian Kennel Club dropped from 20,000 dogs in 1950 to 279 now.

Author Watt-Cloutier lived with her grandmother in Kuujjuaq, northern Quebec to the age of 19 before she went south to further her education, and eventually do research into effects of global warming. Upon her return visits years later she noticed the differences caused by the loss of huskies. “There was a stillness in the air. Everything was so quiet. No dogs barking.”

The slaughter of the Inuits’ huskies is documented in a 54-minute movie/documentary including reenactments and testimonials given by Inuit elders. The movie is titled “Echo of the Last Howl”.